Mother claims Polk school allowed boy to return to finish FCAT after getting caught with BB gun

Administrators say the boy has since been removed

LAKELAND - A Polk County school is coming under fire for possibly breaking its own policy on guns at school.

On Tuesday, a student was caught with an unloaded BB gun on school grounds, but instead of being expelled, a Lakeland mother says the school allowed the boy to return the next day to finish his FCAT testing.

The incident happened at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland.

"I'm like why is a child who brought a gun still in school with my son today?" Said Monica Offermann, who is outraged by what she describes as a lack of action by the school.

Tuesday morning, the boy in question showed the gun to Offermann's son, Calvin Hunt.

"He kind of said 'if anything goes down, I'm going to do this for protection'," he said.

Calvin later told his teacher, who got the school resource deputy involved.

Investigators say the boy admitted having the BB gun in school, but said he later hid it to avoid getting caught.

Under the school's code of conduct, "any student who brings a gun to school … should be expelled for one full year."

But it appears that didn't happen at first.

"He was there this morning when he threatened me," Calvin said.

He claims the boy in question and his brothers wanted to fight for ratting him out.

His mother immediately called called up the deputy.

"His exact words were 'it's not my decision, it's the school board's decision… and they are allowing the child to stay to finish his testing for the FCAT'," she remembers the deputy saying.

According to Offermann, he told her the boy with the gun and his brothers would be allowed to stay to finish the all important FCAT.

Schools can get points deducted if too many kids are absent.

"Since when did a standardized test become more important than the safety of our children," Offermann said.

Director of Safe Schools for Polk County, Greg Bondurant said the boy who had the gun has since been suspended and will be recommended for expulsion.

It appears that happened after our repeated calls.

"You know the FCAT is important, it determines school grades, it's extremely important to the principals," he said. "As far as the policy not being followed, that's a part I'm going to have to follow up on."

A couple hours after our interview, Bondurant called to say the boy who had the gun returned to school because administrators could not reach his parents the previous day to inform them about what happened.

He claims he was not supposed to return to school.

Bondurant's statements clearly contradict a school spokesman earlier in the day who told us the boy was staying there to finish his FCAT before receiving his punishment.

Offermann is sick of the changing stories.

"I'm beyond livid," she said.

After consulting with the state attorney's office, the Polk County Sheriff's Office says it will not pursue charges against the boy because a BB gun is not classified as a firearm in Florida.

A spokesperson said in these cases, it leaves the punishment up to the school board.

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